When people call me a ‘singer’ I cringe a little inside. I know they mean well but it’s just that singing isn’t really what I do. I mean, sure, I sing but it’s about 5% of how I make work. I’m a performer, a songwriter, a co-producer, a creative director, a stylist, a video editor, a social media manager…
On top of it all, I am an entrepreneur. “Rosa Cecilia” is a brand that sells immersive content – be it a show, a song or a music video. And I, the real Rosa, is the CEO of that business. Calling me a singer would be like calling Steve Jobs a phone user. Sure, Steve Jobs used a phone and loved doing so! But it would be 5% of his story.
Music artists are brands like any other is my point. As a British-Latina I have an extra challenge which is breaking into an otherwise unheard of category. While Latin music is booming worldwide – with Latin music revenue surpassing $1 billion in the U.S. for the first time in history – the UK and Europe are yet to make such waves within our community.
As a Latin music artist it would be hard for me to ignore the impact of Bad Bunny. One of the figures spearheading the Latin music wave, Bad Bunny has set a wonderful standard of what it means to be a Latin artist in 2023. As the 10th most streamed artist on Spotify, he has played a significant role in propelling Latin music into the global cultural zeitgeist.
I look to Bad Bunny a.k.a Benito when it comes to how to build an iconic brand – Latino, musical or otherwise. Here’s what I’ve noted.
Have a strong team
By partnering with creators such as his stylist Storm Pablo from the island of Guam, Colombian-American music video director Stillz or Mexican-American art director Ugly Primo, Bad Bunny has been able to create iconic looks, music videos, and merchandise that not only elevate his own voice but also those of his collaborators. Furthermore, each of these creatives understand Bunny’s identity as a Latino creative.
Tap into nostalgia
The GWI Zeitgeist January 2023 report indicates that Gen Z is the most nostalgic generation, with 15% expressing a preference for thinking about the past over the future. Furthermore, nostalgia is a driving force for both Gen Z and millennials, with 50% and 47% respectively feeling nostalgic for various types of media. Bad Bunny cleverly makes vinatge references in his art from 90s nods with the Simpsons on “Te Deseo Lo Mejor,” to a reimagined Elvis Crespo’s “Suavemente” video for “La Neverita” (featuring a maximum video quality of 480p on YouTube), appearing on WWE’s Monday Night Raw, fulfilling his childhood dreams of becoming a luchador; collaborations with his early idols Marciano Cantero from Enanitos Verdes, Chencho Corloene, and most recently, inviting the legendary Jose Feliciano to his Coachella stage.
Know your audience
Despite being Puerto Rican, Bad Bunny is the most-streamed artist on Mexico’s Spotify. Acknowledging this, he quickly sought to collaborate with a Mexican band to regain his position at the top. I am doing a similar thing – I’ve recognized that Latino diaspora listeners acknowledge that I represent British Latinos and so am planning an exciting piece of content with Bonita Bonita, a Latin jazz collective based in London.
Project an authentic narrative
Bad Bunny is the ultimate modern artist in refusing to conform to Western standards – he doesn’t sing nor even speak in English and continuously expresses pride for his Boriqua roots. His opening at Coachella even provided an audiovisual history lesson that traced the origins of Puerto Rican music from salsa, mambo, and rumba to the reggae and hip-hop fusion. He also turned the “Apagón” music video into an 18-minute documentary that sheds light on the harsh realities of classism, oppression and gentrification in Puerto Rico. Both of these examples were directed by Puerto Rican filmmaker Kacho López.
Brands should follow Benito’s lead and incorporate their heritage, values and unique qualities into their marketing efforts. By doing so, they can establish a stronger emotional connection with their target audience and stand out in a crowded marketplace.
The title to his 2020 album YHLQMDLG (Yo hago lo que me da la gana / I do whatever I want) demonstrates his fearless approach to music. Bad Bunny doesn’t look to others to take steps in expressing his identity and brands should similarly do the same if they want to make a unique mark in the space.